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Is it ok to always be happy and act cool?

Or do you have to look actively stressed out and/or unhappy at work, to look professional?

Is it a red flag if your employer expects you to look stressed out and unhappy, eventhough you don't have any reason to?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, AffableAmbler, bharal, Kilisi Aug 24 '18 at 22:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Can I ask why you felt the need to ask this question? Did this come from a conversation, or a performance review, etc? – TheSoundDefense Aug 24 '18 at 20:25
  • It depends on the industry. I suggest you include what industry are you in. – Sandra K Aug 24 '18 at 20:42
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Do you have to look actively stressed out and/or unhappy at work, to look professional?

No. I would say it's the opposite. The true professional should be able to keep an even keel through most (all?) of the day-to-day work stuff.

I've worked with people who constantly moan & complain about being too busy, "having so many fires to put out", not having enough time, etc. To me, that's unprofessional. It makes me wonder: Why can't you keep up with your workload? Why aren't you able to handle the job you've been doing (in many cases) for several years?

That isn't to say there won't be times when things get rough. It will happen. But even then, professionals will keep their emotions in check as much as possible and just focus on solving the problem at hand.

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    +1 I agree. People that are always complaining, come in exhausted and yawning constantly, keep counting down the minutes to leave, etc are the ones that are the most UNprofessional. To me this is childish behavior like you're in school. What kind of employer wants their employees to be tired and unproductive? The employees that come in happy and energetic are always the people hiring managers are looking for because these people are the most productive. Honestly when people come in tired I want to tell them to snap out of it and get to work but hey, I'm no manager :) – Katie Aug 24 '18 at 22:28
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Is it ok to be always happy and act cool?

Or do you have to look actively stressed out and/or unhappy at work, to look professional?

There is certainly no general consensus that being stressed means you are professional.

Is it a red flag if your employer expects you to look stressed out and unhappy, eventhough you don't have any reason to?

I feel like there's a bit of toxic work culture in the United States where there's an expectation that you should be stressed out and overworked if you are a good employee. It's often accompanied with an expectation that you need to always be available to the company or you aren't committed to your career.

I personally try to avoid companies that heavily weight anecdotal evidence when they're evaluating employees, so I'd leave a company if this kind of attitude started to actually matter, but I don't know of that being a common problem.

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Depends on who you are with.

If you are with clients then you need to act in a professional manner. Displaying stress or just general unhappiness in front of clients is not professional and should be avoided.

If you are with your team (especially the person directly above you/who you report to) you should have the freedom to express unhappiness and stress. Being open with to your team is part of a healthy work environment. This doesn't mean complaining about every little thing but just being honest with where you're at.

It should never be required that you act stressed or unhappy when it's not how you are feeling. If a company is expecting that of you then they are encouraging an unhealthy work environment. This can be either due to your company having a distorted view on productivity and a healthy work load or you boss might just be stressed and unhappy and feel like if he's stressed by his work you should be too. Either way it doesn't make for a good working environment. It might change but realistically you're probably better off looking for an employer with healthy expectations from their employees.

This is just what I have seen from personal experience and ultimately everybody will have a different opinion. Take it with a grain of salt and decide what's important in a work environment for you before making any changes. You should never quit your job without being aware of your situation and knowing how hard it's going to be to find a new job.

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